Brigham Research Institute Poster Session Site logo-1
Close this search box.

Zahra Shirzadi, PhD




Research Fellow




Research fellow




Zahra Shirzadi, Wai-Ying W. Yau, Jennifer Rabin, Rachel F. Buckley, Michael J Properzi, Jessie Fanglu Fu, Stephanie Hsieh, Emma Thibault, Parisa Mojiri-Forooshani, Maged Goubran, Bradley J MacIntosh, Sandra E. Black, Julie C. Price, Keith A. Johnson, Reisa A. Sperling, Jasmeer P. Chhatwal, Aaron P. Schultz

Markers of cerebrovascular injury explain the effect of cardiovascular risk on cognitive decline in older adults with lower amyloid burden

I am very excited to attend a women in science conference for the first time. This will provide us with a safe environment to share and present our work and also learn from peers and leaders. Moreover, it will give us an opportunity to discuss issues that affect women in medical sciences. As a research fellow in MGH and a new mother, I can learn a lot from well-known female scientific leaders in MGH about efficient and innovative time management strategies as well as task delegations, areas that I plan to improve upon in my personal and professional life.


Systemic vascular risk is a well-established contributor to late-life cognitive decline, yet the mechanism is not completely understood. We investigated whether neuroimaging-based measures of vascular injury could explain the effect of vascular risk on cognitive decline using longitudinal data from the Harvard Aging Brain Study.


We used the Framingham Heart Study cardiovascular disease risk score (FHS-CVD) as an index of vascular risk. We extracted white matter lesion from structural MRI (, PSMD from diffusion MRI (, and relative tracer delivery from PiB-PET (PiB-R1 as an index of blood flow). Global cognition was assessed using Preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC).


We observed a significant effect of FHS-CVD on PACC change over time while PSMD and PiB-R1 mediating this effect in individuals with low amyloid burden. In contrast, tau burden (and not cerebrovascular injury markers) explained the effect of FHS-CVD on PACC change in the high amyloid group.


These results demonstrate that cerebrovascular injury largely explains the effect of systemic vascular risk on cognitive decline in older adults with lower amyloid burden suggesting mechanisms by which a higher systemic vascular risk impacts brain function.